All roads lead to Rome, though this Saturday Umbra Institute students took the train for their Roman culinary tour. The early-morning departure from Perugia’s train station let the day start relatively early. The first stop was the historic market in Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele. A daily fruit and vegetable market has been held in this square since the end of the 1800s, but the composition of the vendors has changed radically in the last twenty years. From being mostly Italians, the stalls have changed with the rise in immigrant population into the neighborhood. Familes from Jordan, China, and Ecuador (among others) have created a demand for spices, duck, and heritage potatoes, products never before seen in Roman open-air markets.
From here Food Studies Program coordinator and professor Zachary Nowak led students to yet another market in the old city, Campo de’ Fiori. The name means literally “Meadow of Flowers” and had been a meadow and market since the 1600s, when Dominican monk Giordano Bruno was burned there for the heretical idea of the earth rotating around the sun. The market–very much a tourist destination these days–made for an interesting counterpoint to the lively (and more “authentic”) Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele market.
Lunch was in the former Jewish Ghetto, near the Tiber River. Students ate typical Roman-Jewish food, including the quintessential fried artichokes as well as tripe in a tomato sauce. The day finished out with a tough assignment: students were obliged to decide which of their two ice cream cones was the best; one cold treat was from “Gelateria Giolitti,” the other from “Gelateria Della Palma,” Rome’s two most famous gelaterias, and both located a stone’s throw from the Pantheon.
A day in the life of students who study abroad in Italy? Or something special to Umbra’s food studies program? Well…